Well, the long awaited arrival of the Android 2.1 Operative System has arrived to the VerizonWireless Motorola Droid! I have been waiting for this one for a long while. What did it bring to the table? Plenty! However, there are a couple of features that are missing that I sorely miss and hope to come out with future updates.
I installed the update on Monday, at about 11:55 PM CST. It was a 15 mb download. I was amped to see it finally appear in my Phone Upgrade. Rather than wait until morning to install the update, I did it immediately. It didn’t take very long over the Verizon 3G network. The install also went by rather quickly.
So what did 2.1 bring to the Droid?
First off the interface. We now have Live Wallpapers! This is a neat feature, but can be a tad taxing on the battery. I like them, but still prefer my static background. The Live Wallpaper seems to make the interface a bit sluggish in my opinion. You have a nice selection to choose from, and a couple of them can be customized a bit. The customization pretty much extends to selecting a color scheme, but that is about it.
The Gallery update was very welcome. Google integrated CoolIris into the gallery. The look and feel is impressive, and is so much nicer than the old Gallery. I like the stacked photo look of each folder. Scrolling through them is impressive as well. It is fluid, and in a 3D effect. To get an idea, just view the images on this websites footer toolbar at the bottom. That is powered by CoolIris and will give you a good idea of what is going on. You also have “out of the box” Picasa integration! Yes, now your picasa account is directly integrated into your gallery without any additional apps.
Pinch Zooming was also brought to the table. This is a much welcomed addition. Since the Droid can handle displaying a majority of websites “as is”, rather than just a simpler “mobile version”, this is a great addition to help zoom in quickly and easily in the browser. This feature also works in the Photo Gallery. I love being able to zoom in on a shot to see something particular.
2.1 also gave us a new Weather and News app. It has a decent enough widget that gets the job done, but I am not impressed with AccuWeather’s forecasts. They aren’t always wrong, but they aren’t reliably accurate either. Personally, I like the WeatherBug app. I know it has been labeled spyware on Desktop PC’s everywhere, but the phone app is pretty accurate. I dare say more accurate than AccuWeather and The Weather Channel. The News portion is about like any other news aggregator out there. It does the job well, and doesn’t eat up resources.
The 2.1 update also brought with it battery optimization, which I really feel I have noticed when using the phone. What would have normally drained the battery to 80% after an hour or so of use, now only brings it down to about 90%. This is a great deal! If you don’t use Live Wallpaper, that life span is even greater. There is also new security features. Primarily for the lock out, since there was an easy method to get around it. I won’t go into it here, but if you Google Search that flaw, you will find out what it was.
Some of the features also talked about, such as the Map update, seemed to have came out long before the 2.1 update arrived. I had the updated Map on my 2.0.1 Droid about a month before the 2.1 update was released, and it contains all of the new features.
What did the Droid not get?
Well, I was desperately hoping for additional home screens. The Droid only has a default of three home screens. Normally, this “should be” enough for the average user. Personally, I want at least five. I have a pretty busy phone and would like to space things out a bit. Home screen crowding is a problem for me, and the extra real-estate would let me spread everything out a bit. I searched the settings for it, but to no avail.
I am also still waiting for some kind of integrated Google Docs support. This isn’t just a Droid issue. This is an Android issue. Why Google hasn’t created a good, functional and free application for the Android OS yet is anyone’s guess. You either need to go online to the Google Docs page, or download an app. Luckily, there is Documents to Go for Android. However, to edit documents, you need to pay for it. The free version only views them, and that is only Word style documents and Spreadsheets. If Google wants to be taken seriously within the corporate world, an integrated Office Suite is a must, and Google Docs is a perfect fit for the cloud, and mobile frontiers.
The 2.1 update is a very welcome update. It brought to the Droid all of the great features that are available on the Nexus One and a couple of the new HTC Android 2.1 phones coming out. It keeps the Droid relevant, and competitive.
One thing of note, if you check your phone’s new Firmware Version under the “About Phone” settings, you will notice that it says “2.1-update1”. What does this mean? One can only speculate. Keep in mind that Adobe Flash 10.1 is still coming to the Android Platform. Is it going to arrive as a firmware update? What else does Motorola have planned for the Droid? It has been stated that additional updates will be coming over the course of the next few months. So, when they arrive, we will know more.